How To Win the Battle of Intention Vs Action

At Home

It’s 7.01 am and I’m resisting the light creeping under the blind. Across the landing I hear the sound of my Daughter singing to her dolls. The alarm is now on its 5th snooze.

It’s time to get up.

That’s OK, I think to myself, I have an hour before I need to take my Daughter to nursery.

When I get back, just after 8am, I’m going to do two hours of writing/reading. Once I have completed this I will have a delicious hit of caffeine, as a reward.

I drop my Daughter at nursery and I’m back a little after 8.15am.

It is now 11am and I’ve not sat down to start anything that comes close to writing.

What happens between 8am and 11am?

Do I get sucked into a vortex, a third dimension where the physics of time do not apply?


What happens is a sudden outbreak of ‘I’ll just..’

  • I’ll just check my e-mails.
  • I’ll just check my social media.
  • I’ll just check out a few posts on Uproxx
  • I’ll just watch an episode of Parks and Recreation (I’ll just make sure I make up for it in the afternoon).



Intention is all about purpose, or your determination to do something.

You have a goal.

You create a plan

Your intention is positive and you believe you will deliver to deadline.

So why is the deadline not met?


Psychologists believe your belief that you control your behaviour is incredibly important.

45% of behavioural variance can be predicted by your belief that you have control.

Whether you actually have control is irrelevant to psychologists. What is relevant is your perception of having control, of being able to affect the outcome and your behaviour.


So, what steps can you take to enhance your perception of control and be a person focused on action?

You have a goal.

You create a plan.

You believe you can control your behaviour.

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true” remove_url=”true”]“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” ― C.G. Jung[/tweetthis]

The Next Step – Emotions

Psychologists recognised that having a three point plan was not enough. There still appears to be a disconnect and an intention-behaviour gap.

So, how can you close the gap between what you intend to do and what actually gets done?


1. Social Contract

If you have a deadline involve others. Gaining their support will be key in working together and ensuring one does not let the other down.

2. Action Plan

Broken down you have to nail the when you will do it, where you will do it and how you will do it.

Are you a rusher in the morning? Charging around, gathering all the things you need for work, stressing about which outfit to put on? One solution is putting your clothes out the night before. You don’t have to engage your brain, early in the morning, when charging about.

Knowing when (the night before), where (laid out in the spare room) and how (every evening before eating) will increase your chances of moving from intention to action.

At work you may want to have the best team in the Dept. If you don’t know when you will achieve this, where it will happen and how you will do it there is a real chance of other things getting in the way.

3. If/Then Technique

This technique is powerful in supporting the implementation intention.

If I spend time coaching my team, then it will result in them becoming more confident and they will produce better results.”

Think about any task or issue you struggle with, or don’t want to deal with. I guarantee using the If/Then technique will identify the benefit in completing it. This will then create a positive trigger, one which will support you and ensure you are more productive.

“If I have the tough conversation with Karen, one I have been avoiding, then it will help clear the air and improve our relationship.

4. Have a Back up Plan

You may not lead the most successful team in the department.

Achieving disappointing results does not mean the strategy should change, if this was the original goal.

Having a strong Plan B is key in avoiding procrastination.

Plan B is down to you, but for example it could focus on improving each persons communications skills.

Small gains make for powerful results at team level.

5. Will Power

This is about control and a desire to get things done. It is  linked to intention but is more often associated with action and getting things done.

“If I achieve this first task by 10am, I will immediately start on the next one without interruption.”

The Battle

If you find yourself using the phrase ‘My intention was..’ a lot then it is time to saddle up and use some of the above techniques.

We all procrastinate, there is no getting away from this. Be someone who achieves far more than they thought possible. Down time is a positive thing to have and to cherish. In our personal and professional lives we could be more productive and use our time more wisely.

It is a battle I live with each day and I’m determined to master and conquer it. I hope you are too.

Believe and Take Action

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Ian Ruane

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